Nema in partnership with GYIN and WARF has on Monday launched a two-year project dubbed ‘promoting interactive platforms in the agricultural value chain’ in Nema’s intervention sites.
The project, which was launched at the Nema office, is projected to create 18 new rural agri-businesses over 2 years, provide over 100 rural youths and women members of selected rice and horticulture value chain interaction platforms (production, transformation and marketing).
During the launching, the project rationale, key objectives, major results and operational modalities were discussed by the various stakeholders.
In his opening remarks, the Nema project director Momodou Lamin Gassama said the project, which was approved by Nema in August 2017, will be implemented over a two-year period (September 2017 to August 2019) by the West Africa Rural Foundation in partnership with GYIN.
He said the underlying theory of change for the AVIP project will contribute to ‘reduce poverty of rural women and youth’ and ‘increase incomes from improved productivity based on sustainable land and water management practices’.
“The project will also contribute to the achievement of key Nema outcomes by establishing operational and functional women and youth-based agricultural value chains interactions platforms with secured access to profitable local, regional and national markets,” he said.
To achieve this, he said the initiative will establish 6 functional, operational and profitable agricultural value chain interactions platforms linking Nema beneficiaries to key actors of rice and horticulture value chains in project intervention sites in three agricultural regions.
Also speaking at the launching, the GYIN executive director Edrissa Njie said the project idea came at the first-ever rural youth award 2017, which was organized by the institution at the Jenoi Agricultural Rural Farmers’ Training Centre on the 29 April, 2017.
He said the project is aimed at reducing poverty of rural women and youth with the objective of increasing incomes from improved productivity based on sustainable land and water management practices.
GYIN, he said is an international youth network supported by the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations agency.
“GYIN Gambia since its formation in 2012, focuses on rural developments thus capitalizes on the global and national entrepreneurial spirit of young women and men to overcome poverty and build a healthy society for the Gambian community,” he said.
He said GYIN Gambia has also participated in the design of the Nema Project and is a nominated member of the project steering committee, “it has also collaborated with the project in the implementation of entrepreneurship component of the Nema project.”
Njie said young people are the most precious resource a rural community can have, “yet today, many rural communities are losing their young people because there are often very few incentives for them to stay.”
“But with this project, if properly implemented there are numerous incentives that will keep rural youths in rural areas,” he promised.
Njie said the Nema backed project will provide value chain financing to promote access to agricultural capital and resources for 50 members of the interaction platforms.
He said GYIN also initiated the program dubbed ‘I am a GYINer’ designed to recruit young entrepreneurs to become members of the GYIN Community.
The campaign, Njie said took place at a national level with the aim to make youth to be aware of GYIN’s operations in over 100 countries in terms of the fight against underemployment of youth.
He said GYIN also initiated the entrepreneurship, leadership and information technology, ELIT which is a National Youth Summer Camp that targets young people between the ages of 15 and 35.
“ELIT is designed with special emphasis in the agricultural value chain- production, processing, and marketing of crops by young people which are a scientific model in the fight against poverty,” he explained.
The GYIN director further said that the Rural Youth Award was also initiated to recognize and celebrate the efforts and successes of rural youth in entrepreneurship in the areas of agribusiness and information technology to inspire and motivate others.
He said winners of the award are supported in their business plans, provided 6 months mentorship among others.
The Youth Mentorship Programme, he said also being an initiative of GYIN is meant to complement and reinforce both past and ongoing capacity building activities on entrepreneurship, leadership, and information technology for youth.
This, he said is designed to inject new and related aspects of the subjects focusing on critical issues affecting entrepreneurial development in The Gambia, “because at GYIN Gambia, we believe that entrepreneurship is a tool for poverty alleviation thus improves employment of rural youth.”
On the GYIN International Youth Day- “Tesitoo”- Mr Njie said it is a platform used to inspire youth to take farming activities to support their organizations incase funding becomes a major problem for them.
“The celebrations are based on exploring mechanisms to actively engage youth in farming through innovations in agriculture, technology and other sectors,” he added.
Njie also used the opportunity to thank the Nema project for approving the two-year AVIP project.
He also commended the West Africa Rural Foundation, WARF for the trust and the confidence that they have in GYIN Gambia to partner and implement a project for rural youth.
“For the Ministry of Agricultural and the CPCU, we say a big thank you for your effective participation in youth programmes as well as the National Youth Council (NYC) and all our affiliate Community-Based Organisations,” he concluded.
The executive director, West Africa Rural Foundation Mohamed Kebbeh said the project will be a principal for sustainable agricultural value chain in The Gambia, “through this initiative, women and youths will participate effectively in agricultural markets and benefit directly from their participation.
Meanwhile, Musa S. Mbenga, a member of the WARF board of directors, said WARF is an African organisation committed to accompanying rural populations find and follow a path to sustainable development.
WARF, he said in its decades of existence, has been a key actor and leader in diverse rural and agricultural development initiatives in Western and Central Africa.
“We have recently approved the fifth strategic plan of WARF, a plan that is characterised by some very interesting characteristics that converge with Nema in terms of focus and targets. Rural women and youth will be the principal targets of WARF during the next 4 years,” he said.
He said their main focus will be on promoting sustainable value chains as one of its strategic orientations.
This, he said will be done by linking rural women and youths to agricultural markets.
“AVIP will contribute to the achievement of Nema’s goals/objectives as well as the delivery of the project key outcomes. The results will no doubt contribute to the attainment of government’s rural and agricultural development